Law School,  Legal Practice

Bar Exam: Maintaining Focus

So, all you bar preppers, you’re really in it now. A full week in, I remember feeling like I didn’t know anything and getting scared sh*tless, just knowing that I wouldn’t pass. The entire summer, other than studying, my main thing was keeping my anxiety at bay. And I didn’t always succeed. It was rough.

For some, this will be the big barrier you face this summer. The emotional toll studying for the Bar takes on you. There’s a constant barrage of thoughts: what if I don’t pass; how will I earn a living; am I wasting my time; how can I overcome the pain if I fail?

It really feels like the entire world is riding on this. And it kind of is. But it also isn’t. The world keeps on turning regardless of your results, so your main focus should be learning as much as you can rather than what could happen if you fail.

Easier said than done, like usual. But what can you do this summer to keep your eye on the prize?

One. Push the thoughts away. I remember having a handful of freakouts while I studied and they all occurred after I had spent too much time thinking about all the horrible what ifs. So, don’t do that. If you start mulling about what could happen if the “worst” happens, distract yourself. If you’re studying, take a break. Drink some water, do some pushups, watch a funny video–whatever you can to get distracted, clear your mind, and re-focus. This means you have to know your triggers and recognize when you’re spiraling so that you can nip it in the bud.

Two. Be healthy. Ok, so like I lived on candy. It was ridiculous. I ate skittles all the time and I don’t even like skittles that much. The sugar just felt sooooo good. But I did exercise, so ~balance~ lol no, not really. But do try to add healthy aspects to your life while you’re studying. I guarantee that you–all hyped up on caffeine, sugar, no veggies, and no sleep–will not be feeling like your best self.  Feeling sluggish, foggy, and tired leads to more downward-spiral thinking because you just feel bad. Try to add healthy food, water, some activity in your daily schedule.

Three. Be aware of self-sabotage.  Studying for this exam can really test you (no pun intended). There may be times where you fail to meet the mark during your prep that will make you question your intelligence, your talent, and hone in, even further, the fear of the consequences that may come if you don’t pass.  In those situations, it almost seems easier to admit defeat early on. Self-sabotage is a real thing. So, throughout your studying, take inventory of what you’re doing. Are you really studying and giving 100% Or are you allowing yourself to get distracted by other people’s emergency? If you’re spending less time studying and more on something else, ask yourself if you’re creating a situation so if you fail, you can point to something “beyond your control,” as the reason. Then answer honestly. Yes, emergencies happen, but be honest about how you’re spending your time.

Most importantly, don’t let the voice in your head convince you that no matter what you do, you won’t pass. The exam is not the riddle of the Sphinx-you’ve trained for three or four years, you’ve taken law school essays, you’re working really hard every day. You can handle this! Keep reminding yourself that, regardless of any other noise.

You can handle this. You can pass this exam.